NEW YORK (AP) — Financier Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers, seeking bail for their client, said Thursday that the accused sex trafficker of underage girls had long lived with the fear that federal prosecutors might pursue sexual abuse charges against him again — and yet had never sought to flee the country.
Epstein, 66, was arrested Saturday night in New Jersey as he arrived from Paris and now faces sex trafficking charges alleging he abused dozens of underage girls in Florida and New York in the early 2000s. His lawyers have argued that a non-prosecution agreement made more than a decade ago with federal prosecutors covers the same ground as the new charges.
He pleaded not guilty Monday, and a judge asked defense lawyers and prosecutors to submit their bail arguments prior to a hearing next week.
His lawyers recommended house arrest in Epstein’s $77 million Manhattan mansion and electronic monitoring as they countered what they described as a “drastic demand” by prosecutors that he be detained until trial.
They said their client was willing to offer the Manhattan property as collateral while he lives there, along with his private jet, which would be grounded, as he fights the charges.
In seeking detention, prosecutors said a trove of what seemed to be nude pictures of underage girls was found in his mansion after his arrest on charges that he sexually exploited and abused underage girls.
In their submission in Manhattan federal court, lawyers said Epstein always knew federal authorities might renege on a non-prosecution deal signed in 2007, under which Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida, served a 13-month jail sentence and registered as a sex offender.
“Indeed, Mr. Epstein feared the toxic political climate might tempt the government to try and end-run the NPA — yet continually returned home from travel abroad, fully prepared to vindicate his rights under the agreement and otherwise mount a full-throated defense,” they wrote.
The lawyers also said Epstein was in “perfect compliance” with sex offender registration requirements.
The defense also gave some insight into arguments they might eventually use at future hearings and at trial, saying that the accusations against Epstein are “outside the margins of federal criminal law” and don’t constitute sex trafficking since there were no allegations he “trafficked anybody for commercial profit; that he forced, coerced, defrauded, or enslaved anybody.”
Late Thursday, Epstein’s lawyers also asked for permission to file his financial disclosure under seal, citing the “exceptional amount of publicity that has been generated by this case, much of which relates specifically to his finances.” The judge did not immediately rule.
The indictment filed in New York accuses Epstein of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then molesting them at his homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York from 2002 through 2005. The charges carry the potential for up to 45 years in prison.
Since the charges were filed, a woman has come forward to say Epstein raped her at his New York mansion when she was 15. Epstein’s attorneys have not responded to that accusation, and prosecutors declined to comment on it.